SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman discusses efforts to support and strengthen small business suppliers in the national security sector

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman met with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks at the Pentagon to highlight President Biden’s AM Forward Initiative, as well as discuss collectively advancing critical technology and manufacturing priorities vital to U.S. national security and the potential of the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program to help entrepreneurs overcome any barriers to access.

“By partnering with DoD and leveraging SBA’s long-standing public-private investment partnerships through the SBIC program, we will accelerate manufacturing innovation in the U.S. industrial base by enabling access to capital and expertise networks capable of addressing the biggest challenges faced by the small business suppliers critical to U.S. national security,” Administrator Guzman said.

 “The AM Forward Initiative, the SBA’s SBIC program, and the establishment of DoD’s Office of Strategic Capital tell a compelling story about the power of partnerships to ensure that America’s small and medium-sized businesses continue to lead the world in innovation and critical technologies,” said Deputy Secretary Hicks.

The Office of Strategic Capital (OSC), established by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III in December 2022, is a DoD initiative that will partner with U.S. government and private sector stakeholders to implement partnered capital strategies to scale critical technologies for national security. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and SBA Administrator Guzman launched the DoD-SBA partnership in December, and OSC signed an MOA with SBA in March. 

Administrator Guzman and Deputy Secretary Hicks were joined in Tuesday’s meeting by representatives from Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Stifel Financial, and Applied Science & Technology Research Organization (ASTRO) America, discussing how President Biden’s AM Forward Initiative is an example of how the Biden-Harris Administration is working with the private sector to protect America’s enduring technological advantage. This initiative will further strengthen America’s supply chain by bringing together large manufacturers to help smaller U.S.-based suppliers increase their use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

A critical objective of the AM Forward Initiative is an investment in recruiting, retaining, and adapting the workforce so the full spectrum of the defense ecosystem will be able to leverage advanced manufacturing techniques and a highly skilled labor pool when producing innovative capabilities. ASTRO America, a non-profit, non-partisan Research Institute dedicated to advancing the public interest through manufacturing technology and policy, in partnership with Stifel Financial, Lockheed, and GE, intend to identify and invest in lower middle market businesses working to increase American national security supply chain resilience, while also using additive manufacturing to reduce production costs and timelines for critical components.

Administrator Guzman and Deputy Secretary Hicks were also joined by Ms. Heidi Shyu, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Dr. Radha Plumb, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment; Ms. Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator, Head of the SBA Office of Investment & Innovation; Ms. Joelle Gamble, National Economic Council Deputy Director; and Dr. Jason Rathje, Office of Strategic Capital Director.

Article Courtesy of the SBA